Sunday, January 20, 2013

Banning? stripping titles? and future background checks?

What do you think would be appropriate?

  • Requiring a criminal history and background check before a blackbelt is given?  (what group, agency or body could require this?  is there any one group that "authenticates" or formalizes black belt ranking?)  Perhaps we could get the "big name schools" (ie Gracie Barra, Gracie Humaita, Alliance etc) to voluntarily agree to this?
  • Requiring a criminal history free of felonies, or felonies involving violent crime, to be a registered coach bringing competitors to IBJJF tourneys? to be a competitor in IBJJF tourneys?
  • Stripping Nick and Mateo's belt rank? medals and titles from IBJJF?  (upon conviction of course)
  • In the future-- if you have a felony, or a felony involving violence-- your prior medals and titles will be taken back?
  • [insert your idea here.]


Anonymous said...

Best not to focus on anything idiotic you read on F12.

A lot of the people calling for LLoyd Irvin to be burnt at the stake said that they are still going to watch Kumite. Hypocritical.

Georgette said...

Well, I'm ignorant of what F12 stands for... but the ideas in this post are not ones I've read elsewhere, they're things I'm thinking about of my own initiative. What do you think about them?

Neil said...

F12 would appear to be the "grappling technique" subforum on Sherdog. I assume it stands for "forum 12".

I'm inclined to think that a person's criminal record isn't really the IBJJF's business. If the guys involved in this are convicted then they'll go to jail and that's the important part.

Irvin's case is a little more difficult because he was acquitted (even if the reason doesn't really make him innocent). Wouldn't any official denunciation of him by a sporting body be something of a legal minefield?

Anonymous said...

I certainly think those two should be banned from ibjjf events for life, without a doubt. However I don't think I agree with the other measures you suggested.

For instance what if someone committed a felony that didn't involve hurting or murdering another person, and suppose it occurred before they started training-- maybe jiu jitsu even helped them turn things around -- would you still suggest they are not allowed to ever be promoted to black belt?

With that sort of rule, someone who stupidly stole a car when they were 18 would not be able to get a black belt, while the head of an academy who is currently under the heat lamp would, since he was not convicted.

Plus from a practical standpoint it doesn't seem feasible- most academy owners would not be ok with being required to do a background check on new customers that walks through the door, which makes me wonder at point stage that sort of background check would be appropriate.

I do see where you're coming from, but I'm not in full agreement on this one.

clinzy said...

I don't think the IBJJF has any authority to remove anyone's belt ranking. I certainly wouldn't accept that if they told me that they were stripping me of my rank. They didn't award it, it's not theirs to take away. And, say that the alleged rapists are stripped of their belts, do their time, and then come back to BJJ. You want these guys in white belt divisions? That only hurts the actual white belts.

I also think stripping someone of their titles / medals is kind of worthless. It's like the Lance Armstrong thing. He won 7 Tour de France titles. Everyone knows it. Do you think the new "winner" of those events doesn't know he lost to Lance Armstrong? He knows. If the IBJJF events were modified to remove their names, what does that actually do? You say you only want that to happen if they're convicted, which means after they're imprisoned. They're going to have bigger worries than their name on some IBJJF results page at that point. Personally, I'd rather see their names stay there, so people never forget who they were.

As for background checks - I don't see that happening, either. Those aren't cheap (if you want them done right). Who's going to pay for that? Is that the new belt fee?

I understand that you want to make them atone for their actions to the community, but I think there must be a better way Trying to rewrite history and remove them from it doesn't make sense to me.

Jenn F. said...

I do not agree with background checks for giving black belts. But I am naive enough to hope that by the time he/she awards a black belt to a student their instructor knows them as well as a member of their own family. It takes years and years of training to reach this level and should be viewed as a real special honor. Hopefully through the years, all the "bad guys" have already been weeded out. Of course this doesn't work if there are teachers who do not care about the character of his/her black belts, which of course there are. :-(

But I am all for stripping titles away from anyone who has been found breaking the law, or doing anything else that disrespects the sport of BJJ.

Thien said...

For a person with a criminal record to never be able to achieve a black belt, is a bit harsh.
It seems to assume that they have no capacity of reforming and being decent.

I think an instructor awarding someone a belt is vouching their name on the integrity of this person. Even if a person had a previous record, if they have conducted themselves meticulously ever since throughout the 10 or so years to their black belt, and the instructor is confident of vouching for their character then let him award that belt.
The belt is more a bond between instructor and student than it is everything else. We should just take greater care who we give one to, less our credibility suffers.

The 2 rapists, were they exhibiting any warning signs of remorseless behaviour before, or were they model students?

I'd understand if they were blue belts or something. But they were purple and brown. Lloyd Irvin saw nothing of their character throughout the years building a relationship with them?

Anonymous said...

Besides training in BJJ, I hold a black belt and instructor certification in a Taekwondo organization. To become an instructor, you have to pass a background check. My husband, over 20 years ago, was involved in "nefarious" activities (stole a car, didn't let someone jump out of a moving car, etc.). We were able to explain the circumstances, and they renewed his cert (we have to renew every 3 years). This last go round, they decided that it was now too risky (in the current legal environment), and not only didn't renew his cert, but stripped him of his rank (4th degree), his instructor and licensee status (we own a school together), judging ability, and all of the titles he has won (too many state titles to count, at this point). Currently, we are school owners, on regional tournament staff, and contribute to the organization and it's charity on a regular basis. And they pulled the rug out from under him, for something he did over 20 years ago.

And he has done NOTHING since 1990. He has been involved in martial arts for 14 years, and it is what helped turn his life around. Recently, we have gotten them to reinstate his rank and ability to train, he just can't teach. That's another story entirely, and utter crap, but it is what it is, and we have to move on.

So - it's a slippery issue. Yes, martial arts can turn people lives around, and they should be given a chance. At some point, people should be absolved of the sins of their past, if they have done their time, paid their debt to society, as it were, and moved forward.

But from a liability standpoint, people with violent / sexual criminal backgrounds can pose an unnecessary risk in a school. There is not an easy answer. I recently had a long discussion with our HQ about my perceived liability as a school owner. Do I now have to be uber cautious over who I take as a student? Because I don't have so many students that I can turn some down. And if I turn someone down that wants to become a leader, am I then held liable in a discrimination case? There are more questions than answers in this day and age.

Our TKD organization (a very large one) started doing background checks on certified instructors about 6 years ago, in an effort to catch any sexual predators, and to keep kids safe. I agree with that. A few school owners got "caught" with such criminal pasts.

Perhaps have some system for background checks for those that are opening schools, and are instructors. As a student, I am putting my faith in an individual that could take advantage - in many ways.

If the 2 men in question are found guilty, they will be going to prison for no small amount of time, so being banned from IBJJF may be unnecessary. The courts will take care of that.

Georgette said...

Hey guys-- I wasn't saying these were things I had concluded were appropriate, I just meant that I was kicking these ideas around. I don't think there's anything wrong with us as a community deciding that we don't want rapists as part of it! But I do agree, it is hard to craft a policy that doesn't become unworkably vague or unfairly all-inclusive. And I agree, Chrissy, once they go away to do time, they don't care about their medals and titles, but it is worthwhile to remember them and what they did as opposed to try to delete them from the collective memory.

And Thien, I'm not sure, but I think Nick and Mateo were not with Lloyd from whitebelt on. If I'm not mistaken, Nick was a purplebelt in Houston under another school (Revolution Dojo). Not sure about Mateo, but I'm guessing Lloyd didn't have years and years of familiarity with these guys. (And I don't think he's a great judge of character necessarily-- given his own background-- though I don't know him personally so I don't know.

Good discussion folks!

Thien said...

I guess that does make the situation quite tricky.
Added with the statement from the room mate that he thought those 2 were nice guys up until that event.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, my comment was intented for your previous blog post. F12 is the Sherdog grappling section.

I think you bring up some very interesting points of discussion. I don't agree with background checks.

If people are really outraged (as I am) they need to stick to their convictions and not support anything this creep does.

Anonymous said...

This is a tough one for me.

First off, until the IBJJF institutes some sort of drug testing at the high levels any such action would be a bit hypocritical, they are encouraging a culture where steroid abuse is rampant.

I am also not so convinced that someone who does something bad is iredeemable and should never be allowed to live free again, or be executed or whatever. The humanist in me hopes that
the individuals could be taught that what they did wrong and somehow give back to the culture which they took from (note:I am an atheist, but these efforts are something that I
have, at times, in certain situations, respected about certain religions). This might be blind naivete on my part. Of course I also believe vengeance solves little, which may be where those attitudes come from.

JOhn said...

Background checks should be done.

It's the way Judo does it. And they WILL take away your rank for doing something like this.

Just go search Ronda Rousey and Flether Thorton. He got banned by the USJA for life and wasn't convicted or even arrested.

Martial arts is SUPPOSED to have some sort of bright line. If rape isn't that bright line, then there is none.

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